Kings of the Wild World Tour: New Zealand
John Tyrrell is one half of nouveau breaksmiths Kings of the Wild Frontier. In November 1999 he set out on a world tour and this is his neo-Kerouac on the road diary, a kind of continuation of the Kings' "Trans Am" ep which journeyed across the U.S.A from East to West appropriating local musical styles as it went.
Thursday, August 31st, 2000
Having successfully extricated ourselves from the 9 to 5 of city life in Sydney we are now free to wander at will again. After fond farewells to new found friends followed by waves of nostalgia for our temporary home we recently jumped in a brand new hire car and got a taste of freedom again. Not so long ago we'd had a brief sojourn down to Victoria and the stylish city of Melbourne, so this time we headed north again. First we drove inland to gape in awe at the cool Blue Mountains of New South Wales, then we kept right on trucking through the lush Hunter Valley Winery Estates (where John shook the hand of Bruce Tyrrell - he of the fine wines), through to Queensland and bustling Brisbane, and onward to the warmer climes of the Sunshine Coast, before coming to rest momentarily on Fraser Island which is just across from Hervey Bay.
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and it is absolutely stunning. We flew right over it and it's one gigantic sand dune with miles and miles of pristine beach, acres of rainforest and has several incredibly clear freshwater lakes that are perfect for swimming in (no seaweed, sharks, crocs or jellyfish). It's hardly been touched by tourism and still has wild dingos roaming freely along the shores, keeping their distance from the sharks in the shallows of course. Incredible stuff. We even went whale watching and had the privilege to see huge Humpback whales frolicking in the ocean. Wow. We've certainly got a lot closer to nature while we've been over here. But the time has now come for us to leave these aboriginal lands, so it's goodbye to all those crazy critters that we've come to know and love, the possums, the kangaroos, the Koalas, (what's the plural of platypus? platypi? - that's too silly). It's so long to the land of silly names (Wagga Wagga, Creeky Creek and Tittybong?) bye, bye to the home of meat pies (don't ask what the meat is, it could be anything from Kangaroo to Emu). It's see ya to the now familiar sounds of rainbow lorikeets screeching in the trees. And it's time to get out of here when you've heard a Kookaburra howling with laughter at your rendition of 'Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree', (solo first then twice in a round of course). This place gets to you after a while. Yes indeedy it's time to move on. (Jo)
Ah the lush green rolling hills of New Zealand... Sheep. Lots. When we bumped down in Auckland it was colder than Sydney - still can't escape the antipodean winter. After a night shivering in a grim little hostel I leapt behind the wheel of a gargantuan old camper van for a freestyle whirlwind tour of the North Island. Everyone who's ever been to NZ will tell you that the south island is superior. Sorry - we didn't make it that far.
Once we discovered you can hire a private natural thermal spa bath of an evening I realised I would rarely want for anything more. The peak of civilization. Pipped to the post by the baths, but still clearly in the running for highlight of NZ, was the finest roadside attraction I've yet seen (I'm holding my breath for the pleasures of the mid-west US highways), namely hitting golfballs into the middle of NZ's biggest lake, Taupo. What a feeling of raw power overcame me as I swung for victory. Two wild slices, three good thwacks and not a single strike in the same county as the target. (John)
New Zealand is famous for its focus on extreme sports, but we didn't fancy bungee jumping, sky diving or zorbing ( where you climb inside an inflatable ball and roll down a hill), instead we decided to have a go at snowboarding. Neither of us had ever seen so much snow as on the picturesque peaks of Whakapappa Mountain (pronounced Fakapappa) and neither of us had ever been on a ski slope either. Needless to say our arses felt it the next day. But we had great fun watching each other fall over. Actually we decided to try and promote a new sport while we were over there. There are so many annoying back packers wearing some kind of extreme sports T shirts that we thought we'd spread a rumour round the hostels that 'shoulder blading' is the next big thing, just to see if someone would get a T shirt printed up to say they did it ( for further information on this imaginary sport speak to Yen Yen). (Jo)
We got pretty busy with the old thermal action in NZ - loads of pools of bubbling mud & stinky sulphur. I think Jo was a bit bubbling-mudded out at one stage, then we found a particularly impressive foul smelling pool of gunk so it was all OK again. When we rolled up to Rotorua on the first night we had the van, the town was steaming from every orifice - quite a majestic sight when you've never seen anything like that before. (Actually it was pretty scary, like that old movie 'The Fog' - Jo). We caught up with the local maori action down at Whakarewarewa village and were treated to lots of tongue sticking out stuff, foot stamping, and a charming rendition of Mary Wells' "My Guy" in Maori. They can't half belt out a good tune. (Personally I thought their version of Stevie Wonder's "I just called to say I love you" was most endearing? - Jo). Plus of course there was a shed load of the ol' steaming lake/bubbling pool business on hand to entertain. Apparently if you stick a chicken in there for 10 minutes it becomes much easier to pluck. Good stuff. I'll try that then. And that was New Zealand - in and out in a flash. Forgot to go and look at a Kiwi, but I reckon they'll keep. Ugly little fellas anyhow. Bring on the Cook Islands. A bit of fun in the sun? I'm sick of being cold - I'm supposed to be on bloody holiday. (John)
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